In the past, I’ve written about the internal cable routing of Hyro, my 2014 Giant TCX SLR 2 cyclocross bike, as well as walked you through a rear shift cable replacement. However, I’ve never been able to give him a completely fresh set of cables and cable housings. Three and a half years in, he’s been long overdue.
One major reason was simply gathering the supplies and tools needed for the job.
If you’re even thinking of doing this job on your own, invest in a proper dedicated set of cable cutters. Unlike pliers, which can crush cables and housing, these will give you clean cuts by shearing action. I’m using Park Tool’s classic CN-10, which is highly recommended by a lot of mechanics. Jagwire, Pedro’s, Super B, PRO, and other tool makers have their own versions which should work just as well.
As great as TRP’s Spyre mechanical disc brake calipers are, they explicitly state that they work best with compressionless brake housing. Unlike traditional brake housing, which is spiral coiled along its length, the compressionless stuff more closely resembles shift housing in that it is made of multiple small wires in parallel that surround a plastic inner liner. In many varieties, what makes it compressionless is a woven layer of aramid fibers surrounding the whole thing. (One aramid variant is Kevlar, famously used in bulletproof vests.) This means compressionless brake housing is more resistant to bending, and must be routed as cleanly and with as few abrupt bends as possible.
There are Jagwire full cabling kits that carry their compressionless brake housing. However, they’re way too short for the full-length housing run required on many cyclocross bikes, and I don’t know any local bike shops that carry the “XL” version of these cabling kits – that would’ve worked.
Internally routed cables in a bike frame are a common bugbear of bike shop mechanics. There are many hacks out there that can help decrease the time sink and aggravation of fishing out cables and housing from inside a frame tube…but I say investing in a Park Tool IR-1 internal cable routing kit is the ultimate hack of all. I will be talking more about this tool in the future, but suffice it to say that it is AWESOME.
The final requirement is a set of ferrules, one each for 4 mm (shift cables) and 5 mm (brake cables). These are essentially caps that slip over the ends of the cable housings to prevent them from mushrooming outward. While brake ferrules can be made of plastic, shift ferrules are typically made of metal. On the 2014 Giant TCX, you will need six shift ferrules and four brake ferrules in total, and not all housing ends require them.
As you’ve no doubt picked up by now, preparation is crucial. I doubled up on it by buying shift cables, shift cable housing, and brake cable housing in bulk. I also have a couple road brake cable sets bought as spares. All that shift inner cable and cable housing should last me a few years; all I’ll have to replenish are brake cables and relevant ferrules when my supply runs low.
Finally, since full cable replacement involves removal of your handlebar tape, you might as well have a new roll of the stuff on hand. In a break from tradition, I tried Fabric’s knurl tape this time around.
In the next installment, I will walk you through the brake cable replacement.